Two Poems


‘Rise up, O Lord. May thy enemies be scattered
and those who hate thee be driven from thy face.’ 
(Inscription found on a fragmented strip of gold)
The independent valuation came in at £3,285,000

That high-pitched wail
kicks in, heralds pay-dirt.  
The shroud of soil
removed, it surfaces,
loud as a smile above
an open grave;
furrows of gold,
a perfectly-preserved
stillbirth, exposed,
keening and buttery,
just as interred. The field’s
been ploughed way back
where this was found,
our Dark Age past exhumed,
torn from the dead.
Was it rough politics,
a secret stash? The cross
was mangled; whiff
of sacrilege, bad blood,
knight sacrifice,
crude tit for tat;
ill fortune best left in
the ground beneath
the dowser’s measured feet?
He cried for help.
Light danced before his eyes
in shovel-loads.
Someone was listening.


On the Old Bog Road
County Galway, Ireland

His face adds texture to the ground he cuts.  
Cured by the wind and rain and written on
like pages from long-faded paperbacks,
he’s tenure here. Recall to mind those men
you laboured with, who mocked your eagerness
through smiling eyes, fond summer days on roads
and building sites. The air is dozy with
the sense of drying peat. You watch him turn
new-sheening turves to cook, then try his spine,
lean on his crook to craic the time. “I worked
the motorways for years. This called me back.”
He’s shaman-wise, stacks visionary truths,
old as these hills, we burn unwittingly,
like youth’s fair-mindedness, to smoke and dust.

—Peter Branson, Stoke-on-Trent, UK